Internet-based Carpooling Service

Published Jan-15-10

A traffic management program to cut congestion and influence people to stop driving alone and use public transport alternatives instead.

Company:, United States

The Story:

Internet-based Carpooling Service In a gigantic effort to cut down on traffic congestion and reduce pollution the Intelligent Transport Society of America (ITS) launched a global open innovation competition for commuters, citizens, entrepreneurs, universities, and transport experts.

ITS wanted to harness the power of open innovation because it considers that current lack of progress may be due to the fact that transport experts only talk to transport experts and not necessarily to the rest of the world. ITS believed that if they were to discover something truly innovative they had to cast their net wider and to reach out to people who are not in transportation.

Global Open Innovation Contest

To attract a broad range of intellectual input ITS created the first ever global competition to identify the best ways of reducing traffic congestion and its impact on the environment. “We cannot allow congestion to grind cities, suburbs and supply chains to a halt every morning and afternoon,” said ITS America President and CEO Scott Belcher.

According to ITS the transportation system in America is “at a point of crisis.” Stark statistics such as the average metropolitan commuter spends one full working week stuck in traffic every year leant a sense of urgency to the open innovation contest. Not only does gridlock waste time, but it is also damaging to the environment, the roads, and reduces quality of life.

To help potential solvers come up with inventive solutions ITS demarcated the specific attributes it was after which included: - lower energy use and emissions, provide timely information, reduce accidents, and produce travel choices that will reduce congestion.

The Power of Open Innovation

Thousands of people decided to put their pedal to the metal and more than 116 entries from 20 countries were sent in. They were examined by an open global community of more than 4,000 individuals including the general public and transportation industry professionals.

Nine finalists were selected and the overall winner was, an online company headquartered in Issaquah, WA.

Winning Solution

The company’s winning solution was a comprehensive Internet-based commute management program that provides travelers and commuters with a full array of travel choices for modes of travel other than driving alone.

They are also working with regional agencies and city jurisdictions to come up with a range of tools that will change people’s behavior and get them out of their cars and into public transportation. These tools include guaranteed rides home and bike blockers, and currently iCarpool is building an infrastructure that will provide a comprehensive view of all the travel options available to commuters. This will include associated costs, time taken, the carbon footprint of the journey, and plenty of other features.

Prize Money

For their winning submission iCarpool was awarded $50,000 investment to help with further development of their solution. “Regional agencies, city jurisdictions and employers across the globe can take advantage of our solution today to achieve great results in mitigating traffic congestion and related environmental issues,” said Lakshmi Krishnamurthy, founder,

Although there could be only one winner ITS say they received a number of excellent solutions which will be further investigated, and these came from sources that they wouldn’t have known about if they had only sought solutions from the transportation industry.

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